Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Pakistan: Implications of Monsanto Protection Act

Monsanto is today a global leader in the areas of agricultural production, pharmaceuticals and food and nutrition the world over. Based in St. Louis, USA, this $8.6 (US) billion Life Sciences Company has been responsible for many revolutionary products and technological breakthroughs in the agricultural sciences.

On October 01, 1998, Monsanto acquired Cargill hybrid seed business in Pakistan. Monsanto also acquired Dekalb Genetics and Asgrow business worldwide, giving Pakistan an access to wide range of superior genetics. Monsanto deals with proprietary Corn, Sunflower and Forage Sorghum hybrid seeds. As part of a commitment, Monsanto is the only multinational producing and marketing Wheat, Cotton and Rice certified seeds. Monsanto is the first company to invest in research, production, processing, quality assurance and developing a viable marketing infrastructure.

Article Monsanto Protection Act: A Post-Mortem for Our Legal System, written Clay Rossi and circulated by Information Clearing House should be an eye opener for the Government of Pakistan and Pakistanis.

It’s time for a brief postmortem on the events leading to the passage of the Monsanto Protection Act (MPA). Now that President Obama has signed the legislation which included the MPA into law, there are certain facts that need not be forgotten for the next time (and there will be a next time) big business buys itself judicial immunity from Congress.

As a refresher, the MPA prevents federal courts from interfering with the sale or planting of genetically modified seeds regardless of the evidence presented to the court about the health and safety effects of those seeds.

For starters, remember that Monsanto purchased bi-partisan support for this abomination. It was Missouri Senator Roy Blount, a Republican, who worked with Monsanto on crafting the legislation and Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat, who introduced the provision.

Moral of the story is that loyalty to rank-and-file party members or constituents concerns didn’t matter is the face of Monsanto dollars. Also the White House failed to stop the measure despite petitions and protests urging President Obama to stand up against the measure. This is a bleak fact.

Next, remember that the health concerns are real. Those who question the safety of GMO foods are not fringe luddites. How do we know that for sure? Because Monsanto itself refuses to serve GMO food in its company commissaries. When confronted with that troubling fact, the Monsanto position was that “We believe in choice.” How exactly the prohibition on GMO in the food it serves to its own employee is “choice” defies logic.

If Monsanto’s refusal to eat its own product is too circumstantial for your tastes, how about a French study from September which showed that Monsanto GMO corn led to tumors and sever organ damage in lab rats. This same company who is all about “choice” spent over $7 million last year to defeat California’s Proposition 37 which would have provided labeling so that consumers would have a “choice” to eat GMO or not eat GMO.

Finally, the danger of this precedent can be put simply: that “court challenges are a privilege, not a right.” 

Have we truly reached the point where irresponsible corporations can not only buy their way out of trouble, but also where they can buy the right to make trouble (or sickness or environmental devastation) with impunity beforehand? Regardless of whether it is proven that GMO foods are a health risk, Monsanto has already done great harm to our legal system with its efforts to shield itself in the fight against GMO.

Only the future can tell us what is in greater danger, GMO-corn-fed rats or our legal system.

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